Author Q and A: Jakob Boyd on politics, anarchy and building communities

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Laundry Man, also known as Jakob Boyd, is part spoken word poet, part anarchist and next month, he’s launching his first full length book.

I first met, Jakob when I was coordinating the WA Poetry Festival (now called the Perth Poetry Festival) for WA Poets Inc, but I didn’t get to know him until well after I stepped down from the committee. Jakob has published many zines, chapbooks (for both himself and others) and has (and continues to) run several events around Perth. He’s contributed a lot to building a community of young poets in Perth, which is something that wasn’t very prominent when I first got involved in 2011.

Jakob’s poetry is raw and confronting. His performances are like heated arguments and he’s not afraid to use silences to make you feel uncomfortable. This week I talked to him about the differences in his print and performance work, as well how poetry can have a political impact.

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Jakob Boyd’s first full length collection, City Without Stories, will be launched by Scott-Patrick Mitchell on the 3rd of November.

Do you think poetry can have a political impact? How much does the community around poetry and the sharing of poems define this impact?

As poets, I think we’ve all got this fantasy where we walk up to a president, a prime minister, a line of riot cops or a billionaire CEO and read a poem so earth shattering they turn against their systems of destruction, renounce their power and start a revolution… but for me, this isn’t where the impact of poetry is.

Poetry has a unique ability to unite communities that intersect between fringe art scenes, activist circles and disenfranchised groups. These communities exist in solidarity against an indifferent culture of spectacle that limits our political power. At open mics, people who would otherwise just pass each other on the street, share their deepest, loudest and strangest desires, passions and demands for a new world.

If ‘dominant culture’ restricts communication, strangles identity and limits our ability to collect as individuals – poetry communities can do the opposite. Build flexible, communal cultures that empower and strengthen.

Poetry isn’t a means to an end, it’s an end in itself; communities building cultures, rather than being subjects of them. And if we give everyone room, and knock each other’s socks off; folks will stick around and be inspired to spread these revolutionary cultures to everywhere else in their lives.

Politics is filled with language that can be quite the opposite of what we expect from poetry, do you struggle to incorporate this language into your poems and reconcile the two?

Man, tough question… I guess if the poet’s job is to make clear the unexplainable, then we should focus our efforts on policy documents, annual budgets, immigration legislation and negative gearing rather than just your everyday ennui. So yeah, in a more political poem, I do struggle trying to reconcile the two but you gotta keep going I guess; describe the impact of these jargons, boil them down to their essence, point out their ridiculousness.

Laundry Man performs ‘Another Flag’:

How important is accessibility of meaning? Should one have to work hard to “solve” the poem?

I don’t think so. Sure a poem can be a puzzle, but it should be fun to solve. Poetry shouldn’t be a magic eye picture where, if you stare at it long enough, you get a fleeting moment of recognition. Don’t make your poem an IQ test. This thinking is why, to the vast majority, poetry is dead; coz everyone thinks it’s a labyrinth. When really, good poetry is more like a rollercoaster!

I like to play around, twist things on their head, make metaphors that lead nowhere… but this is for PLAY, not for obscurity. Each line should flick on a light in the reader’s/listener’s heart, each line should have weight, be direct, be clear. Poetry should be entertaining. It should provoke thought the way music provokes dancing.

You have a book coming out soon, congratulations! Do you think there is a difference between performance poetry and written poetry? Have you struggled to move between the two, given you are, predominately, a performance poet?

I like to think that poetry on the page is ‘performed’ through ink and white space the way poetry on the stage is ‘performed’ through sound and silence. It’s all poetry. On the stage it’s like music. On the page, it’s like painting. You can lean in to certain things on stage, like repetition, monologue & dialogue, emphasis. A rhyme or a flow sounds better on stage than it sounds in your head.

On the page you can be more subtle, more stark, more reflective. The poem can work on its own time without the temporal pressure of the stage.
But both can have electricity and dynamism. It’s all about playing to the strengths of the medium; figuring out ways of provoking thought.
Most of the works in the book were originally designed for performance (like all language?) but I’ve never found it too tricky making them work for the page with some minor chops and changes. Recontextualising….
                                                     and lots of enjambment…

You’ve run a lot of events in Perth which have helped support young and marginalised writers. Do you think the industry as whole is making more space for these voices?

It’s getting there? Spoken Word Perth, the nucleus of a huge boom of Perth poetry in the past couple years, is run entirely by women and trans folk. The champions and finalists of Perth Slam are almost always queer poets, non-binary folks and people of colour. This year saw the return of the multi-lingual, multi-faith workshop & showcase ‘Common Ground’ (go check them out). More gigs are making efforts to be physically accessible. More gigs and promoters are taking efforts to exclude abusive motherfuckers. From what I understand, it’s a lot less male dominated, a little less white, than it was just a few years ago. I grew up with posters for local poetry gigs on the walls, and the names are almost all dudes. These days, most poetry features you see, especially in the younger crowd, are much much more diverse. I think there’s been some huge leaps forward in the past couple years.

But there’s still problems… I like to think I do what I can… but I’m one of the major promoters in town and I’m a white dude, so there’s ultimately very little I can do for voices less privileged than my own. There are no gigs in town dedicated to people of colour. The Perth Poetry Festival often makes little room for voices and perspectives outside of it’s old white bubble.

I dunno. I’m not the best person to ask.

Let’s see where it goes in the next couple years…

What local poets/writers should we be reading/listening to?

All of them. Except the dickheads.

But if you see these names featuring at gigs, get on it, these are the big-hitters on the spoken word scene in 2018:

Jesse Oliver, Saoirse Nash, Luka Buchannan, Taonga Sendama, Nadia Rhook, Maddie Godfrey, Daniel Hansen, Fable Goldsmith, Neil Smith and C.V The African Spice.

Watch them now: 

Jesse Oliver, a trans poet and the 2017 Australian Poetry Slam Champion, performs “Designer Soulmates”

Fable Goldsmith performs “I found you” which has a content warning for suicide

What events should I be going to in Perth and why?

It depends what you like! If you want a solid open mic – Spoken Word Perth. If you wanna win cash for a cracking poem – Perth Slam.

If you want top notch spoken word acts and local music, there’s my gig Dirtymouth at Mojos Bar. If you want weird shit – Noizemachin, Outcome Unknown and CYt.

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If you want crazy DIY backyard music & art goodness, keep an eye on Jugular and HaXa House.

Check these out on the social media void and get out ya diary.




Laundry Man aka Jakob Boyd is a performance poet, visual artist, indi-publisher and gigmaker. Raised by anarchists in Perth’s radical art scene, Laundry Man has appeared at events, shows and festivals in Perth and around Australia including at NYWF, High Tide Fremantle, Southbound, FRINGE WORLD 2018, Perth Poetry Festival, Crack X, HaXa House and in the band ‘Blow Jobs & Growth‘.

He’s organised and co-run a myriad of DIY events and projects currently including Dirtymouth Music and Poetry, Perth Slam, Hectic Measures Press and a variety of illegal music parties. Jakob has been published in Cordite 52, Street Light Press 12, OUTinPerth and by Mulla Mulla Press.

City Without Stories is Jakob’s first full length poetry collection. Out through Indifference Publications, City Without Stories collects five years of playful, dark and energetic verse in a semi-autobiographical odyssey through fast food kitchens, nihilistic suburbs, modern romance and the depths of Perth’s counter-culture; a punk-poets call to action to build our own culture from the ground up.

Find Jakob on social media:
Instagram – @laundrymanpoet

Author Q and A: Scott-Patrick Mitchell on taking risks and putting yourself out there

Scott-Patrick Mitchell (SPM) is a performance poet based in Perth, Western Australia. He’s recently started writing fiction, and I’ve been quite eager to talk to him about whether poetry has supported or complicated the transition. As well as his work in writing, SPM is also a social-media gun. He manages the WA Poets Inc social media accounts and publishes his own micro-poems on Instagram. SPM’s body of work is massive, and his motivation to keep on creating is something I’ve found very enviable (as I lose confidence in myself very easily).  I’ll post his full bio at the end of the interview, but two recent highlights for me are his poems in the Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry (2017)  and his horror story “The Voice in the Void”, which was narrated for Chilling Tales for Dark Nights by Otis Jiry.

SPM’s next performance will be at Spoken Word Perth on Wednesday July 4th 2018. Make sure to follow his Instagram account as he has some big announcements coming up soon!

You’ve had a lot of success writing poetry and, more recently, writing short stories and long fiction. What has the transition from poetry to fiction been like for you? In what ways do they support and nourish each other? Is there anything you’ve struggled with?

For me, poetry is very much the quick lick of inspiration, that tingle and shimmer that captures you, how a poem approaches, engulfs. It’s a thrill, a surge, a sheering scribble of the moment. Yes, we come back to edit them, labour – oh, the labour of editing – but it’s very of the instant, of the images clicking into place, demanding to be written.

Short stories and prose have the same fire, but the sequence requires sustaining. I find it easy to enter back into the sequence of a story once it’s been started. But starting it, there’s the rub. For me, it’s a far bigger leap of faith to start a story, but once started…as long as you come back to them, tend to them, finish them, they ease up on you, into you.

I find my poetry likes to clang and jump inside the sentences of my story. It makes for a musicality, one you can probably hear here in what I’m writing now, hopefully. Poetry and prose, in that regard, make wonderful bedfellows. I like to let them tumble and roll together.


You’ve produced a lot of diverse work throughout your career. What advice do you have for writers who feel pigeonholed or are worried about writing outside of their comfort zone?

Be the experiment. That’s one of my key rules for writing. Be the experiment. Basically, it means that if you treat those parts of writing outside your comfort zone as experiments, they are allowed to fail. And failure, in this instance, means you merely try again, possibly resetting parameters.

But it’s largely about faith: in yourself. Honestly, if you can dream it, be it, no matter the horror rocking in the pit of your stomach. Bravery and faith, employed in even the smallest measures, can yield amazing results. If those two words make you balk, then replace them with audacity.

For example, when I proposed THE 24 HOUR PERFORMANCE POEM to Crack Theatre Festival, I honestly did not expect them to pick it up, help stage it. But they did. And it was a life-changing experience. But it all started with that initial moment of bravery and faith, or audacity. Hell, I think in this instance moxie is better suited.

And remember, your comfort zone will always be there, waiting, no matter where your writing takes you. Your comfort zone is that big warm bed you curl up in to at the end of the day: it will always be there to help nurture dreams. But those other dreams, those exciting dreams, those thrilling dreams, the dreams that make you say I can’t believe I just wrote / did that, they are dreams worth leaving your bed for.


How do you balance writing fiction and poetry? What does your writing schedule look like?

Hmmmmm…balance…what’s that? Ha.

Preferably I write fiction first thing in the morning. I find it’s the best time to be loose enough to go for a long long stroll through your story, your mind, your imaginary landscape, all without that ever so critical inner-editor waking up and tagging along. The inner-editor gets to look at my fictIon in the evening. So, in the morning I write, in the evening I edit.

In between is where the poetry happens. I post quite a bit of micro-poetry to @spmpoet, my Instagram, at least once or twice a day. I find this a good way of keeping in contact with that part of my soul. But the middle of the day is when I like to read poetry, and reading poetry usually spurns me on to write poetry, even if just fragments.

But that’s all depending on the luxury of a writing routine. Sometimes life likes to throw other stuff my way. That’s when it becomes hard to find a routine. But I recommend, if people are indeed reading this for recommendations, that people write first thing in the morning, as soon as they can after waking up. It’s amazing how much you can achieve before 9am. And there’s a certain satisfaction in writing a 1000 words before 9am.  


You’re quite involved with the WA writing scene. You’re on the committee for WA Poets Inc and you recently did a residency down in Albany, just to name a few recent things. What are you reading right now and what poets/authors do you think we should be watching?

I’ll try and keep this brief haha.

Fiction wise Louise Allan’s debut novel is just gasp. Kim Scott’s Taboo is also something else. I’ve really been enjoying John Kinsella’s recent two collections of short fiction: the way he tells stories is potent and mesmerising. One author I have only read blog-wise, not fiction wise, but is on the cusp of big things is Holden Sheppard, so if you can track down copies of his work from PCWC and KSP, I recommend buying them, having a read. I certainly will be doing that.

Poetry on an international level? Hera Lindsay Bird, hands down. Just incredible. But I also recommend reading Sarah Kay, Sam Roxas-Chua, Ocean Vuong (!!!) and Heath Brougher. They are each doing really quite superb things. If you like your spoken word / slam poetry, then any of the titles from Button Poetry are sure to satisfy. I also like this Instagram-poetry trend and the works being put out by publishing house Andrews McMeel: it’s a lot more pop-poetry, readily accessible to the reader, which is a bloody brilliant trend in my opinion.

Poetry wise, on a national level? There’s a whole heap to be honest. Lots. And they are all important and well worth reading. But three in particular that are resonating with me include Susan Fealy and Sarah Rice. Both accomplish such amazing things with self and imagery that you sometimes finish reading their poems with your head spinning. But the one poet / book really holding me at the moment is Shastra Deo’s The Agonist. My word, this collection is something else. Every poem makes me feel as though I’ve just witnessed a sacred and profane ritual unravel before you. Intoxicating. The sequence Scout Tests and How To Pass Them I found particularly haunting: there’s an electric mix of techniques happening in these poems with just a dash of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, enough for the images to dance across indescribable spaces.   

Honourable mentions should also go to Quinn Eades, Stuart Barnes, Ramon Loyola and Robbie Coburn.

Local poets I am digging? Renee Petitt-Schipp’s debut collection is quite stunning: very sensitive and wonderful and nostalgic. Annamarie Weldon also has another book of poetry coming out this year, and from what I’ve heard so far, it promises to be amazing. As does Julie Watts forthcoming Legacy. I particularly love Julie’s sense of compassion wrapped up at times with a very wry side-order of humour. But I would recommend readers check out what Fremantle Press and UWA Publishing have on their latest release schedule and, of course, support local.

On a local emerging level I highly recommend checking out Maddie Godfrey’s debut poetry collection How To Be Held. Maddie is a phenomenal talent, and in great company too. A number of their contemporaries, who are also worth checking out, include Jakob Boyd (I’ve heard we can expect something new and exciting to hold / read / devour from this exciting and promising new voice later this year), Saoirse Nash, Luka Buchanan (Luka’s books are just swoon – you can buy them from Diabolik Books), Katie Bennett (debut chapbook out through Hectic Measures Press – get it), Elise Kelly, Kai Schweizer and Biddle. I’m also really excited to see what Jesse Oliver’s debut poetry collection will be like. Jesse won the Australian Poetry Slam last year and part of the prize is a book deal: from what I know already, this debut collection aims to combine the a rich texture of inspirations, all of which are aimed to empower the reader. Oh and Andrew Sutherland is primed as a local poet to watch out for, so much so that I think you’ll only find a poem or two of his around… at the moment. But trust me, he does sublime verse.


You manage the social media accounts for WA Poets Inc and they’ve seen quite a bit of growth recently. What advice do you have for writers on how to increase engagement online?

First of all I should probably preface this with a warning: social media is addictive. It can create, as some have suggested, a “statistical addiction”. Please use social media in moderation. It’s a tool and should be used as such. It shouldn’t be something we use all the time. So please make sure you balance your usage.

Now, to answer your question. It all depends on which platform you use. I’ll discuss Facebook and Instagram. I’m not really ‘good’ / engaged that much with Twitter. If you’re keen to see how writers use good content and engagement on Twitter, check out Louise Allan, Holden Sheppard and Hera Lindsay Bird.

If you use a Facebook page for your writing, one of the key forms of engagement at the moment are Live Videos. I don’t use these, yet, but these allow you to reach a wider audience. It’s a perfect way to read out what you’ve just written to your audience. Otherwise, make sure you post a balance of relevant articles, own writing, writing memes, opportunities and news regarding your successes. Just be authentic, as much as you can be on social media.

Instagram is my latest jam. It’s a really rewarding platform in the sense that you build a community around yourself based purely on your writing. It’s largely micro-poetry I post there. So, consider the aesthetic of your posts. You can use apps like Phonto to develop this. Then work out the hashtags you’re gonna use: you can use up to 30. I recommend using 30 when you start out. Google top Instagram hashtags relating to poetry to find out the most relevant. As you post, and connect, more, you will discover that certain publishing platforms on Instagram have their own hashtag: begin swapping those in once you find platforms that you click with. And then do fun stuff, like ask people to post short poetic responses to prompts and then share this content on your Story. Make it fun for yourself and engaging to others. And remember, create community: more good things happen when you work with your community.

But ultimately, be authentic and have fun. Social media can allow you to inspire people you’ve never met. Since I was fourteen, this has been one of my key goals with my writing: inspiring someone I’ve never met with my words. Social media facilitates this. I also treat social media as a bit of a computer game, so I try to make it as enjoyable for myself as I can (please note, Facebook has lost an immense amount of this joy in my opinion). So it’s can be good for writers if they recognise why and how they are using. And yeah, use in moderation.    



Scott-Patrick Mitchell (SPM) is a West Australian performance poet.

SPM completed a BA in Psychology and Writing from ECU and studied a PhD in Performance Studies (Performance Poetry) from WA Academy of Performing Arts. As part of his PhD he developed a theoretical framework for performance poetry which led to shows like THE 24 HOUR PERFORMANCE POEM, The 12 Minute Monomyth and interactive spoken word poetry tours like Freo Is A Poem and Critical Mass.

Mitchell has appeared nationally, performing at such festivals as Big Sky Writers Festival, NYWF, FringeWorld, Adelaide Fringe, Emerging Writers Festival, Crack Theatre Festival, Rosemount Australian Fashion Week and Critical Animals.

His poetry appears in such anthologies as Out Of The Box, The Turnrow Anthology of Contemporary Australian Poetry, Contemporary Australian Poetry and The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry, Performance Poets 3, Poetry d’Amour, 4W and Hashtag Queer.

His poetry appears in Westerly, Rabbit, Overland, Regime, dotdotdash, Cordite, Plumwood Mountain, Alien Mouth, Five 2 One and Uneven Floor, among others.

Mitchell currently writes for OUTinPerth, is the Social Media Coordinator for Perth Poetry Festival, and mentors a number of young and emerging West Australian poets. He will be releasing a spoken word EP in 2018 via The F**k You Records.


Find SPM on Instagram and Facebook. 

Author Q and A: Josh Langley on creativity

I met Josh Langley at the 2016 Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival, where we were both participating authors.  Josh and I met at a dinner put on for the authors and, to be honest, I don’t even remember what we talked about. When I met Josh, and his partner Andy, I’d been invited to the festival as a poet. I talked at events about the suburban roots in my poetry, and read my work at a few different libraries. When I approached Josh for this blog post, I did so as a novelist. I’m currently editing the first draft of my first novel, and I have a lot of questions. For me, it made sense to turn to Josh.

Josh has published six books and recently won the 2018 ABIA (Australian Book Industry Award) Small Publisher’s Children’s Book of the Year. He has two children’s books that I’m particularly keen on;  Being You is Enough and It’s OK to feel the way you do. His seventh book, Find Your Creative Mojo: How to overcome fear, procrastination and self doubt to express your true self is due to come out in September/October.

How do you approach writing a new book? What do you do once you have an idea? How do get from idea to first draft?

It depends on the type of book. If it’s a children’s book, I open the template that I use for my kids books and start writing and add the coloured pages. I want the manuscript to look and feel like the finished book, so I can get into the groove. The first draft usually takes a few days, and then I go back and edit and edit and edit. After that, I leave it for a few weeks. Then I come back at it with fresh eyes and edit again.  Once I’m happy with the wording, I get my partner to cast his eyes over it. Then I start doing the illustrations. Mind you, if I’m feeling lazy, I’ll send the wording off to the publisher to see if they’re happy with the direction. Then I’ll do the illustrations.

In regard to my non-fiction, I create a new folder on the computer and, within that, I make folders for each of the sections. I then throw notes into the folders, little idea starters, photos, and anything else that might be relevant. After that, I flesh out each chapter / section and then bring them all together in the manuscript form. I rarely start at the beginning. It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. I don’t really know where it’s going, or what it’s going to be like, until I put all the parts together.

Do you have a writing routine?

No. If I’m on a deadline, I just make the time to write. Having said that, I’m a morning person, so that’s when I prefer to bang out the words. I’m not precious about where I write either, most of it is done at the kitchen table! 

You do a lot of talks about your children’s books in schools. How much should writers be concerned with promoting and marketing their book and working to make sure their message is heard? Is this something they should be considering during the writing process, or something that comes after?

Writers should be making promotion of their work a priority from the outset. You have to be what someone coined ‘an authorpreneur’, even if you have a traditional publisher. Share works in progress with your readers. Let them see what the process of writing and creating a book is really like. Build your author platform and make yourself as accessible as possible. Long gone are the days of the hermit writer sitting in a weather beaten hut on the southern tip of Tasmania without any internet. Sure, it may be good for writing a book free of distractions, but nowdays you have to work in concert with your publisher to show that you’re as keen as they are to see your book succeed.

I hear a lot of writers say that they find it hard to ‘sell themselves’ and don’t like to talk themselves up. I have two things to say in regard to that. Firstly, you don’t ‘sell yourself’, you make connections with readers. Pretend that your potential readers are your friends and treat them as such. Get on social media and use the platforms that you enjoy (I use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). Get a website (I made my own using WordPress) and work them all like a boss! Get excited. You’re getting a book published, so be excited! Even if you’re a shy introvert, like me, and suffer ‘posting anxiety’, just remember the words of Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie said to focus on the other person and make them feel important. That then takes the focus off you and onto them. It’s a win win.

How do you organise your drafts and research?

Haphazardly! I try and make research as much fun as possible, because it’s part of the process of bringing the book together. If it’s the kids book and I’m researching about resilience, then I factor that into process of writing the book by doing google searches, talking to educators and parents, and contacting different organisations. For my self help / memoir style of non-fiction, most of the research is lived experience and experimentation, so that’s fun to do.

Do you think it’s valuable for writers to hire an editor before submitting their manuscript to agents or publishers?

No. Mind you, if you have the cash to do it, then maybe it’s a good idea. I get fellow writers to look at my manuscripts and then, when I feel they’re ready, I submit.

Writing, like any creative field, is a tough business. Have you ever doubted yourself and, if so, how do you cope with those doubts and pick yourself back up?

Oh, hell yes! I doubt myself all the time. It’s part of the process of expressing yourself. It comes with the territory. I think we make self doubt seem bigger than what it is by trying to avoid it. We push it away and, in doing so, allow it to consume us. I’ve learnt to realise that doubt will always be there, but I don’t have to listen to the bullshit it says. Just let me get out what I need to. Then I can let the doubt have a look, and I can piss it. off.

What moment in your career stands out for you, if you could only pick one?

Without a doubt winning the 2018 ABIA Small Publisher’s Children’s Book of the Year. It wasn’t something I was aiming for, or even expecting, so it was the biggest, and best, surprise. I was purely focused on writing children’s books with my unique voice and illustrating style. Winning the award confirmed that what I want to say, and how want to say it, was no longer fringe stuff, it was moving toward mainstream. That’s what I want, as that’s how you get your message to the most number of kids and parents.

What would you say to someone who isn’t feeling creative or doesn’t think they can be creative?

In my book, Find Your Creative Mojo: How to overcome fear, procrastination and self doubt to express your true self, I get the reader to reframe creativity as self-expression. We all have a deep down need to say something, to express ourselves in some way, whether it’s through basket weaving, pottery, writing, drama or stand up comedy. I think, if anyone is quiet enough they can feel a gentle pulling or a nudging from somewhere deep inside. It’s our birthright to honour that feeling and help it find a way tocome out and express itself. The best thing is, there are no rules on how you do it. Just start where you are, and see where it leads. Be curious about it.


About Josh Langley

After failing high school twice, Josh Langley went on to create a successful career as a nationally awarded radio creative writer spanning 20 years. He’s published 6 nonfiction books and gives talks at primary schools and festivals, and runs workshops. Josh’s second Children’s book, It’s Ok to Feel the Way You Do won the 2018 Australian Book Industry Awards Small Publisher’s Children’s Book of the Year. He also owns a creative agency with his partner and lives on 7 and a half acres in the South West of Western Australia with a bunch of neurotic chickens. His new book Find Your Creative Mojo: How to overcome fear, procrastination and self-doubt to express your true self is due for release in September 2018.